Earth has many natural resources. Humans have learned to use some of these, but some resources remain untapped. Additionally, the use of some of these resources, such as mercury, can lead to negative effects on the environment.
This is why resources that can actually lead to improvements in the environment are cause for excitement. Lithium, for example, can potentially be a part of products that can minimize the stress that humans put on the planet.
But how exactly can lithium be good for the environment? And where does it come from? Keep reading to explore the largest lithium deposits in the world!
Why Mine Lithium?
Many value lithium and the ability to mine this element. This is because lithium and the compounds that contain it are good for the environment. They make it possible to use clean energy and transportation that do not pollute the planet. Lithium accomplishes this primarily by enabling the production of rechargeable batteries for electronic products, such as electric vehicles.
Additionally, lithium is a very important ingredient in lubricants and glasses with low melting points. There are many lithium compounds that are important in industries, including lithium hydroxide, lithium oxide, and lithium carbonate.
Uses for Lithium
There are many uses for lithium. It is a very reactive metal that is used to make rechargeable batteries for electronics that are very dense and energy. Lithium can be incorporated into batteries for cell phones, laptops, electric vehicles, and grid storage, among other products.
Manufacturers can also incorporate lithium into glass products. It increases overall durability, including thermal resistance and corrosion resistance, for the use of these products at extreme temperatures. People use it in items that are likely to become very hot at some point, such as glass containers, fiberglass, specialty glass, and glass-ceramic stovetops.
Lithium has made the glassmaking process far more efficient simply because of its natural properties. However, the primary use of lithium continues to be the construction of batteries. In 2020, 71% of the total demand for lithium was due to a need for lithium-ion batteries.
10. Arcadia Lithium Project
This project is an open-pit mine in a location 23.6 miles (38 kilometers) from Harare, Zimbabwe. Prospect Resources, an Australian mining company, owns and operates this mine.
The professional estimation is that this mine holds reserves of 29.8 megatons of 1.31% lithium oxide. The expectation is that the mine life will be 12 years. Every year, the average production should be 212,000 tons of 6% spodumene concentrates, 216,000 tons of petalite concentrates, and 188,000 pounds of tantalum. Currently, this mine is under construction.
9. Goulamina Lithium Project
Mali Lithium, a mining company in Australia, completely owns and operates this project, which is located in the Bougouni region of Southern Mali. The plan is for it to be developed using open-cut methods.
The estimation is that the mine contains 31.2 megatons of 1.56% lithium oxide, with inferred resources of 103 megatons of 1.34% lithium oxide. The estimation is that the mine will operate for 16 years, with a production capacity of 362,000 tons of concentrate for each one of those years.
8. Altura Mining’s Pilangoora Lithium Mine
Located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, the Pilgangoora lithium mine, owned by Altura Mining, is thought to contain 34.2 megatons of 1.04% lithium oxide. The expected life for this mine is 13 years.
Initially, the expectation was for a production of 220,000 tons per year of lithium spodumene concentrate. However, plans set forward by the second stage expansion of the mine increased the annual production capacity expectation to 440,000 tons.
7. Whabouchi Lithium Project
This project is in central Quebec, Canada, specifically in the James Bay Area. A Canadian mining company called Nemaska Lithium owns this mine. The estimate is that it contains reserves of 36.6 megatons of 1.3% lithium oxide. The plan is for these reserves to be developed using underground and open-pit mining methods.
The expected mine life here is 33 years. In the 26th year, The expectation is that open-pit reserves will be depleted, and underground mining can start. The expected amount of production is 205,000 tons of concentrate per year.
6. Greenbushes Lithium Project
Located in Greenbushes, Western Australia, this project is actually owned by Tianqi Lithium, a Chinese mining company. It is operated by Talison Lithium, of which 51% is owned by the former company.
The estimate is that this mine contains 86.4 megatons of 2.35% lithium oxide. Installation of 2 processing plants is complete. These produce lithium concentrates. The plan is for more lithium processing plants to be constructed to increase the processing capacity of the mine.
5. Earl Grey Lithium Project
Also known as the Mount Holland Lithium Project, this is located in Mount Holland, Western Australia. Specifically, it is in the Forestania Greenstone Belt. Half of the company is owned by Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile, and the other half is owned by Kidman Resources.
The estimate is that this mine contains reserves of 94.5 megatons of 1.5% lithium oxide. The expectation is that the mine will produce 411,233 tons of spodumene concentrate every year for the 47 years that the mine is expected to be productive.
4. Pilgangoora Lithium-Tantalum Project
Completely owned and operated by Pilbara Minerals, this project is located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The estimate is that there are 108.2 megatons of 1.25% lithium oxide, 120 parts per million of tantalum pentoxide, and 1.17% iron oxide.
As the fourth largest lithium mine in the world, the plan is to expand the mine to increase production capacity to 5 megatons per year, allowing for the production of 850,000 tons per year of 6% spodumene concentrate.
3. Wodgina Lithium Project
This project, which is the third-largest lithium mine, is located 62.1 miles (100 kilometers) southeast of Port Hedland in Western Australia. Mineral Resources and Albemarle Corporation are the owners of this venture. The estimation is that this open pit mine contains 151.94 megatons of 1.17% lithium oxide.
This project should produce 833,000 wet tons, or 750,000 dry tons, of 6% spodumene concentrate annually.
2. Thacker Pass Lithium Project
The location of this project, the second-largest lithium mine worldwide, is Humboldt County, Nevada, in the United States. Lithium Americas is the company that owns and operates this project. The mine is estimated to contain 179.4 megatons, with 3.1 megatons of lithium carbonate equivalent. The lifespan of the mine is expected to be 46 years.
1. Sonora Lithium Project
This is the largest lithium deposit in the world. It is located in Sonora, Mexico, and is being developed by Sonora Lithium. The estimation is that the mine contains 243.8 megatons, including 4.5 megatons of lithium carbonate equivalent. The initial mine life is estimated to be 19 years.
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